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New major quake in disaster zone

Published 12/05/2015

Nepal has been rocked by another powerful earthquake, just weeks after its worst quake in 80 years killed more than 8,000 people.

Today's 7.3 magnitude quake struck an isolated Himalayan area between the capital, Kathmandu, and Mount Everest, near the Chinese border, the US Geological Survey said.

Nepal's Home Ministry told the Associated Press that the death toll was at least 36 people, with hundreds more injured after the quake triggered landslides and toppled buildings.

The Nepalese government and aid agencies already on the ground have started a new aid effort, with the districts of Sindhupalchowk and Dolkha believed to be the worst affected.

Yeeshu Shukla, Christian Aid's emergency programme officer, was in Sindhupalchowk, around 40 miles (64km) from the epicentre, when the building he was in began shaking at around 1pm local time (8am BST).

He said: "For a moment, I felt that the building I was in would come down. We rushed out. Everyone was out on the street, some of them panicking, with mothers screaming, looking for their children. There were four or five severe aftershocks and some buildings collapsed.

"Travelling later towards Kathmandu the roads were lined with people too scared to re-enter buildings, with heaps of rubble where some structures had collapsed.

"Now the race is on to get relief through to the worst-hit areas - clothing and other essentials. There is a shortage of drivers, however, many of whom have returned to their homes to be with their families."

Today's major quake was deeper, at 11.5 miles (18.5km), than the 7.8 magnitude quake that hit on April 25, which was at 9.3 miles (15km) down.

This morning's quake was followed by a series of lesser aftershocks measuring from magnitude 5.6 to 6.3, the USGS reported.

It forced the closure of Kathmandu's international airport, which has been the focus of aid efforts to help people affected by last month's earthquake.

Saleh Saeed, chief executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which has raised £50 million since the first earthquake struck, said: "We are very concerned about the potential impact of this latest quake on the people of Nepal and on the efforts of our member agencies to respond to the devastating 25 April quake.

"DEC member agencies are now urgently seeking to assess the needs of those worst affected by today's quake. They are also taking stock of any disruption that may have been caused to existing aid efforts."

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: "We have already provided significant support including shelter, clean water and medics following last month's earthquake and we stand ready to continue to support those affected, including providing assistance to any British nationals who need our help."

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